Thursday, February 17, 2011

Videowave Clips 2: Hüsker Dü, The Murmurs, Buzzcocks, Philip Glass,Ofra Haza, Lene Lovich, Holly Beth Vincent

Text (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2011
Videos (c) Alan Abramowitz/Videowave

I became involved in the Videowave cable access program pretty early on, starting off as a photographer and ending as a videographer, but for most of the shows from the 1980s, I was floor manager for those clips below, being the connector between the set and the control room. Yeah, the guy with the clipboard and the headset. There was no money involved for anyone, but it gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of great talent, and also connected FFanzeen to some future interviews.

Here is a selection of a half dozen of bits of interviews of shows on which I worked. Meanwhile, Videowave is still on in many of the tri-state markets, and new shows are still being created.

Here is the second in a series of blogs, but I will only put up ones that has a direct link to either FFanzeen, or to me directly. As more interviews are digitized, I will put more up, with Alan’s kind permission, of course.

1. Hüsker Dü, May 1985
Here is a short clip of the band being interviewed by Executive Producer Alan Abramowitz (off-camera) backstage at the Peppermint Lounge. I worked the camera. Before the shoot, I gave the band copies of FFanzeen which they kept open on their lap throughout the interview (thanks, guys!). They were their usual surly selves, but not to an obnoxious level, and I liked them, as they were being themselves rather than presenting who they thought they should be. The unrelated partial clip following them is Alan being esoteric, as he’s wont to be on occasion.

2. The Murmurs, September 1994
Jennifer Krantz interviews the alt-folk rock duo who still has an incredibly strong following, years after they have parted ways. Alan and I had come across them performing at a street fair in Tribeca, and were immediately struck by their sound. The interview was done in two parts in an apartment. While I was the videographer on the second half, Alan actually video’d this first part because I was late (that’s me at the door in the interview; I enter into the room at 3:15). Leisha Gordy (left) went on to some acclaim co-starring in yogurt commercials and The “L” Word, and Heather Grody Reid formed the group Redcar.

3. Buzzcocks (Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle), December 1991
The ex-Dawn Eden conducts the interview with the Buzzcocks on a hotel bed in New York. I was on camera, trying to avoid embarrassing angles as much as possible, which was hard because of Alan’s placement of the tripod in juxtaposition to the position of the bed. The ‘Cocks were very pleasantly British, and seems to be enjoying Dawn’s antics. While not a very deep interview by any means, it’s uncomfortably interesting in a way an accident must be seen.

4. Philip Glass , June 1983
Alt-composer Philip Glass brought along his son, Zack, who was a punk-dressed pre-teen, and a great kid. The whole crew liked both him and Philip. Interviewer Merle Ginsburg does a great, informed job interviewing him, and he gave his full attention, which was appreciated. It certainly made the experience all the more absorbing. I was Floor Manager for this shoot.

5. Ofra Haza, January 1992
Dawn Eden does a better job interviewing the late Yemenite / Jewish singer Ofra Haza in her room at the Hotel Excelsior in NYC. I was on camera (which was actually my VHS camcorder that Alan used for a number of years), and was standing behind a comfy chair in a very small, uncomfortable space with the heavy and bulky camera on my shoulder (hence the shaking). Ofra was very nice - if professionally distant - off-camera, and I admired how open she was to a small, non-commercial outfit as we were, while she was on a major tour and getting a large press push to the majors.

6. Lene Lovich, Holly Beth Vincent, March 1983
As I promised in Part I, here is the Young Filmmakers Studio interview with both Holly Beth Vincent and Lene Lovich. Both were expats from the US living in England for a number of years, who came back to live in the States, one by choice, and one not. You know this is a long time ago, as Holly is smoking on the set. She came across as quite unpleasant to me, but some of the others present that day, including Alan, found her to be actually nice. Maybe it was my mood, or the fact that Alan was running the show and I was just the guy with the clipboard (re: insignificant to her)? Still, I like and respect her Holly and the Italian’s “Shut Up,” and the work she did with Joey Ramone. As I stated in the last Videowave blog, Lene was quite wonderful to work with, took the cues right on, and was totally present in the moment. They are interviewed by Merle Ginsberg, and segment is introduced by Michele Piza and Victoria Vesna.

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